A Brit who's crazy about all things Disney and Mickey Mouse has jetted off to all 12 global Disney parks so that he can ride every one of the 216 rides on offer. He's shelled out a fortune to live his dream travelling miles from parks in Asia and America as well as Europe.
Ben Wooldridge, 35, has spent thousands of pounds on his globe-trotting adventure that has seen him visit four countries on three continents as well as multiple theme parks. Some of us dream of going to one or two Disney theme parks, but that simply wasn't enough for Ben.
The major Disney fan's travels have seen him fly 54,300 miles to Florida, California, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai over the past six years. he's been going to the parks for over 30 years since his first magical visit to the happiest place on Earth.
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Ben first fell in love with Disney when he visited Disneyland Paris as a four-year-old boy back in 1992. However, it wasn't until 2016 when the Chinese park opened in Shanghai that he decided he was going to visit every one of the parks.
He may be the first Brit to go on every ride at every Disney park after ticking off Shanghai on November 6 this year. He has been on 216 rides, visited 12 parks, seen six Disney castles and been to the USA, China, France and Japan during his quest.
Ben, from Leamington Spa, said: "My love of the Disney parks comes from my mum and dad when they took us to the Disneyland Paris when it opened in 1992. The took us to Florida every few years and it was always a big magical occasion. I wanted to feel that sense of occasion as an adult too and when you're there it always really feels like your doing something very special. I knew when I did another one, we'd end up doing all of the others. If you go to the parks, you're naturally going to do all the rides too.
"I definitely can't pick a favourite park as they’re all so different and so unique, they’re all so fascinating. In terms of my favourite Disney character, it's highly predictable but it will always be Mickey. He's the symbol and mascot for Disney and as Walt Disney said 'it all started with a mouse'."
Disney currently have parks in Orlando, Anaheim, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Most of these locations feature multiple parks – for example Walt Disney World has four theme parks, while Paris has two.
Ben added: "As I got older and more into travel, it was the perfect match. I wanted to complete them all. It was just ticking off the list, it was also interesting to see Disney through a different culture and consuming the brand in a different way. In Shanghai and Hong Kong the experience is much more about taking photos. The character meet-and-greet take priority over the rides. It’s even more special over there.
"Also in the Asian parks are characters who exist who don’t exist over in the western parks. It’s a different Disney culture and a different park culture. The things I love the most is the attention to detail. The Asian parks I'm the most keen to go back to but that’s because I've done Florida and Paris a lot. I think it was probably around the time the Shanghai park opened in 2016 that I decided to do this. It has the biggest castle park of them all.
"I started with my first Disney experience 30 years ago but it has mainly been completed in the last six years. You have to save hard. They were all done over separate holidays, and I did them one-by-one."
Ben claims he planned his dream Disney trips alongside holidays with family and friends to make it more affordable all round. Despite that he's still shelled out thousands. e says that far flung Shanghai Disneyland has the best rides out of all the parks. Which makes sense as it's such a new park, but his favourite US ride is 'Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance' at Walt Disney World.
He added: "The key is to plan, there’s so much to do. I have no idea how much it cost, but spread over the years, it’s definitely thousands, I haven’t ploughed all of my savings. I can't deny that I've spent thousands on visiting the Disney Parks over the years, but with the right planning and know-how, it doesn't need to break the bank. There’s six castle parks and then there’s some locations with multiple parks in those countries.
"You’ve got the original in LA and Disney World in Florida, and then Disneyland Paris. Then you’ve got parks in Asia in Shanghai, the newest, and then Hong Kong and Tokyo.
"Being the newest of the Disney parks, the rides at Shanghai Disneyland are at the cutting edge of technology. Even Disney classics such as Peter Pan’s Flight are given an extra touch of magic by incorporating new technologies.
"My favourite ride is probably Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Anaheim and Walt Disney World. The experience goes far beyond a ride and the attention to detail is mind blowing.
"I do like a good bucket and tick list, or doing everything in order like watching all the Star Wars films in order. It’s like that. It’s just in my personality. I've completed the parks with various family and friends. I bring them along to experience and share the magic together. The most important thing about going to Disney is sharing and enjoying it with friends and family."
All 12 Disney parks around the globe:
- Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, USA. (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom).
- Disneyland Resort, Los Angeles, California (Disneyland, California Adventure).
- Tokyo Disney Resort (Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea).
- Disneyland Paris (Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney Studios Park).
- Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (Hong Kong Disneyland).
- Shanghai Disney Resort (Shanghai Disneyland).
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